Otogi 2: Immortal Warriors Xbox Review

One of the lesser known Xbox hits returns in the form of a much improved sequel. Otogi is not one of your average games. It has a very unique style and as such I imagine it will put a lot of people off from the cover art alone. This game had the unfortunate task of being the first game I played after Halo 2, a moment I was dreading from before I had even begun Halo 2. However it has faired well with me, and has become a breath of fresh air into my gaming collection.

Gameplay

The basic way to describe Otogi is a button basher. It’s all out action and the action just never stops. No real puzzles to solve, no real RPG elements (apart from the odd purchase of weapons and magic) and no complicated combo systems to get to grips with.

The solid all out action is no bad thing however, as it is done extremely well for most parts of the game. Crudely it could be compared to the likes of Devil May Cry meets feudal Japan. The game reminds my of the old PS2 launch title Red Faction, where it was boasted that all environments could be destructed, although in reality this was never the case. However Otogi hits the environmental destruction on the head and it’s one of the game’s biggest aspects as everything you hit explodes. This introduces a very different feel to the game, not least because there are no keys in this game, only exploding doors!

This time the sequel has six playable characters, as opposed to the originals one. I’m not going to list them all here and their abilities, but it’s probably the most varied team in gaming history. Every character has different pros and cons, which are exploited throughout the game’s 27 odd levels in a manner of different ways.

The combat between your character and the many demons is a simple lock on mechanism, which can be done manually or automatically. You generally have one button for normal attack, one for a powerful attack, one for magic and one for jumping/floating. There is also a quick dash move, executed by pressing one of the triggers. Camera rotation is a little slow, and can make it hard to locate the demons before they attack you. Likewise the lock on isn’t always perfect, and the camera can get in the way of the action quite a bit.

Graphics

The graphics, from environments to character design are like nothing else out there on the Xbox. The engine is completely perfect as I rarely witnessed (if ever) any slowdown within the game. It copes with the masses of enemies and destruction going on with ease and it is plain to see why the Xbox was the format of choice with this developer.

Particle effects are generously used in this game, giving particular eye candy moments when you unleash a powerful spell etc. The environments are not the happiest of places, as this is a dark game at heart, and therefore the developers did well to make it look as beautiful as it does, despite this fact.

The demons themselves are very well made, with some very original designs. The first of these to strike me was the paper thin, ghost like demons from the earlier stages; they truly were a different type of enemy to attack. Attacking them is not always easy as they can take over massive statues, and so the game converts from attacking small, fast and untouchable enemies to ones that involve long battles.

The in-game display disappoints however, as it’s a fan with a few dots that’s never really explained in the game, and took myself a long time to work out what everything was for. A simple text only design would have looked less cheap and would have been far more effective, without losing any of the games atmosphere in my opinion.

Otogi 2 is a very very pretty game and words just can’t do it justice; it is like no other game. Check out the official page for the game to get more of an idea what I am talking about.

Sound

The main problem I had with the sound in the game, was perhaps down to my own Xbox. The English dub on the game, within the cut scenes, was completely out of sync (voices came in up to 10 seconds later than they were required), and this has made it impossible to judge how well the voices were converted. Unfortunately I do not know anybody else with an NTSC format Xbox, so I am assuming that this was down to my Xbox drive, and not the game.

The actual score of the game is brilliant, completely capturing the essence of the game itself. The easiest way to describe it would to compare it to the opening stages of Ninja Gaiden, where its not music itself, but its more than background atmosphere.

Otogi 2’s sound effects are very original and there are no old Doom samples here! However they do feel a little repetitive, especially the slashing noises, which leads you a little bored in the latter stages.

Lifespan

This really depends on how much action you like in a game as two main things could stop you from finishing this game. The first is the restart points should you fail to complete a mission. Especially earlier on within the game, I died numerous times right at the end of a level that had taken me the best part of an hour (probably to my lack of skill within this genre) and the only option was to go play it again and again until eventually I passed by sheer fluke. Had I not been reviewing the game I might not have bothered to get round this point. However if you do find yourself in this position, please do try, as the effort is eventually worth it!

The other reason you may struggle is because of the somewhat confusing yet original story line, as it may not be to everybody’s taste and therefore could perhaps not spur you on to complete the game.

Otogi 2 is roughly about 12 hours long. To 100% complete the game could take a long time, and there are rewards for completing it, such as being able to start again with all the powers in the previous complete game available from the start.

Overall

This is a great asset to the Xbox library as there is nothing that comes close to its story line or graphical originality. However this game isn’t for everybody as it doesn’t require a lot of thinking, but does require some patience. The camera issues and repetition of missions can spoil enjoyment, but most people should definitely give it a go as if you do you will be rewarded with a great example of an un-commercial style game in today’s flooded commercial games market.

8.2 out of 10

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